Guest Post: Latest GOP debate features flip flops and falsities

By Silpa Kovvali

So, before I get started, I think it’s important to preface my debate analysis by saying it sucks. Shouting “BEHOLD, RIDICULOUS PEOPLE SAYING RIDICULOUS THINGS” makes me feel superior and all, but it doesn’t offer a challenge or the chance to change my mind or mature. And I’m not the only American of voting age. 225 million lost opportunities are just some of the many reasons why last night was bad for our country.

These candidates have legitimate differences of opinion, and that some of them have beliefs other reasonably-minded people hold. I would have enjoyed watching a Republican Primary debate that addressed these differences in a well-informed, rigorous, non-personal fashion. I would have enjoyed hashing out those viewpoints in a subtle and nuanced manner here. Instead, we got an SNL sketch of an evening that left a bitter aftertaste. You know, because it’s real.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t solely the fault of the people on stage last night. The role of responsible moderators during a discussion like this one is to call the candidates out when they say something illogical or dishonest, when they refuse to answer questions and instead rely on talking points, when they make personal attacks instead of ideological ones. They didn’t. Remind them of that next time they get on TV and complain about bloggers sitting around in their pajamas sullying the honor of their profession. Just be sure you limit your critique to sixty seconds.


Apparently Tea Party members watch political debates with their dogs

I know Fox News viewers aren’t exactly the geeching demographic, but I would like to take the time to lodge a formal complaint about this choice of sounds. My viewing companion Trevor and I both reached for our laptops excitedly whenever a candidate went over time. There’s a metaphor to be made here (“we’re all just dogs to the doorbell of technology”), but we have more important matters to attend to.

I swear I know how to make those jobs appear out of thin air!

Governor Perry is right to note that he competes with other Governors, like Rick Scott of FL, for jobs. Even if he’s winning, others have pointed out how flawed that approach is on a national scale. Jill Lawrence writes, “Let’s say that every state streamlined its permitting, added industry ombudsmen, lowered its corporate income tax rate and offered incentives to companies to expand or relocate. Michigan still wouldn’t have Texas assets like oil and gas reserves, a warm climate, NASA and huge military installations. It would still be saddled with the heartbreaking decline of its major city, Detroit. It would still be seeing an exodus of people and the consequent loss of teachers, firefighters, cops and other government workers needed to serve them — just as Texas has gained public employees as its population has surged.”

The public employees point here is crucial. Perry implies here that he doesn’t need a specific jobs plan because we can just take a look at the magic he made in his state during the past decade. Texas has indeed experienced a net job growth of 75,000 jobs since the recession began. But during this time, the private sector LOST 40,000 jobs. The net job gain here is the sole result of government hiring to the tune of 115,000 people. Perry’s un-specific plan of “getting out of the way” of the private sector is totally inconsistent with what really drove job growth in his state.

No sympathy for the DREAMers

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to hear a group of supposedly compassionate individuals, including Michele Bachmann who reminds us every five seconds that she’s foster parented tens of millions of children, advocating harsher penalties for individuals who were brought to this country without documents as children. In other words, violating the spirit of the Constitution by punishing a child for the crimes of his or her parents. Ron Paul even proposes ditching birthright citizenship altogether!

Look, children don’t decide to pack their bags and cross borders. They do as they’re told. When I moved to this country at eight, I trusted my parents were filling out the right forms. Luckily, they were. Some of my peers were less fortunate. Now, they’re adults who’ve never known any home other than America, whose parents broke the law in the hopes of giving them a better life, and who are now forced to live in hiding through no fault of their own. What exactly would these candidates have them do?

This clip has already gotten a lot of attention because a few members of the audience booed a gay soldier. That obv wasn’t cool, but I’m more concerned about Santorum’s response to this question. First of all, his claim that sex has no place in the military is factually inaccurate. While there are limits placed on sexual activity (e.g. members of the armed services can be charged with adultery if they are cheating on their spouses, soldiers are forbidden from engaging in sexual acts within their chain of command), it certainly isn’t outright forbidden.

I’m not sure where Santorum gets off claiming that “we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to a to to Don’t and removing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell [sic].” There’s probably a reason he had so much trouble spitting that sentence out.

The HPV vaccine question, again

This is Governor Perry discussing how he made the decision to offer an opt out HPV vaccine to 12-year-old girls in his state. He states “I erred on the side of life. And I will always err on the side of life. As a Governor. And as the President of the United States.”

The same Governor Perry had no issue executing a potentially innocent man, and dismissed members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission who had the audacity to investigate the incident years later.

Their positions change quicker than their hair does

I would be remiss not to mention that Romney’s most obvious flip flop has nothing to do with health care. Here is a “Romney for Governor” flier wishing the residents of Massachusetts a happy Pride Weekend. It states, in no uncertain terms that “All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference gender.”

But during this campaign season, Romney, along with Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge. The pledge states that, as President, he will support a Constitutional Amendment which lays out a strictly heterosexual definition of marriage. It also requires the appointment of a commission to “investigate the harassment of traditional marriage supporters.” Because, you know, that’s a good use of taxpayer funds.

Silpa Kovvali is a group blogger for The Huffington Post living in NYC. Follow her on Twitter @SilpaKov.

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